The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 27           July 24, 2006  
‘Renditions’ used widely
in U.S.-led ‘war on terror’
WASHINGTON—The story of Laid Saidi is the latest refutation of the U.S. government's claim that it does not transfer prisoners accused of “terrorism” to other countries for interrogation where they are often tortured, a practice called “extraordinary rendition.” In an interview in the July 7 New York Times, Saidi described his experience with Washington’s system of secret kidnappings and detention.

Evidence has also come out that a number of European governments have been complicit in abductions in their countries of mostly Arab men, at least one of whom is a German citizen, and their transfer to countries where they were tortured.

Saidi, an Algerian, said he was expelled from Tanzania in May 2003. He directed a branch of the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation based in Saudi Arabia. Washington has charged that the Al Haramain charity, now dissolved, was involved in financing “terrorism,” including the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.

Saidi was handed over to U.S. agents and flown to Afghanistan. He said that during his 16 months of captivity in several secret prisons there he was blindfolded and photographed after being stripped of his clothes. During interrogations he was chained to a ceiling and suspended by his arms, his feet attached to the floor. “They beat me and threw cold water on me, spat at me and sometimes gave me dirty water to drink,” he said. On one occasion he was chained for five days without food or clothing.

The apparent basis for his arrest was a tape of a phone conversation that his captors claimed was about planes. It was instead about tires. Saidi said that in late August 2004 he was flown to Algeria and released, without ever being charged or told why he had been imprisoned.

In a letter published in the July 5 Wall Street Journal, John Bellinger, a legal adviser to the U.S. State Department, defended the so-called renditions as “legal” and “vital.”

Following a meeting with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales defended the secret kidnappings and detentions, adding that Washington had an obligation only to seek assurances against torture from governments to which prisoners were being turned over.

Meanwhile, tensions over foreign policy between Washington and its imperialist rivals have revealed more facts about the role of European governments in the “antiterror rendition program.”

On July 5 the Italian government arrested two officials of its intelligence service, one of them the director of a division of military intelligence, for aiding the CIA in a kidnapping. An Italian judge issued warrants for four U.S. citizens, three of them alleged CIA agents, reported the Reuters news agency. Earlier, an Italian court issued arrest warrants for 22 suspected U.S. agents. The arrests and warrants are in connection with the rendition of an Egyptian cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, who says he was abducted in Italy and sent to Egypt, where he was imprisoned and tortured.

A report adopted July 7 by the European Parliament charges that the CIA was directly responsible in some cases in the “illegal seizure, removal, abduction, and detention of terrorist suspects” in Europe. The report cited the governments of Italy, Germany, Sweden, and Bosnia as having participated in or sanctioned renditions.

Many European governments have allowed the CIA to transport prisoners through their airspace. In the United Kingdom, Home Office minister for security Anthony McNulty said neither the police, special branch, or immigration services kept details of CIA flights through Britain. More that 200 CIA flights have passed through since Sept. 11, 2001, according to official flight records, the Guardian newspaper reported.
Related articles:
Canadian gov’t transforms military to fight ‘war on terror’
London sends more troops to Afghanistan
Protesters in Pittsburgh condemn FBI raid of mosque  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home